HC Deb 17 October 1990 vol 177 c1211 3.30 pm
Mr. Frank Field (Birkenhead)

I seek to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing an urgent and specific matter which should have immediate attention, namely,

the proposed sale of Cammell Laird shipbuilders. The matter is immediate because the proposed sale was announced this morning, and it is urgent because 2,000 jobs are at stake, and Birkenhead is already a black spot in the unemployment league table. If the closure takes place and a sale is not forthcoming, we shall be pushed towards the top end of that league table.

Moreover, it is also urgent because Cammell Laird is the very heart of Birkenhead and it is difficult to conceive of the town without its shipyard. The matter is urgent because Cammell Laird provides one of the great skill centres of Merseyside and if this country is to have an industrial future in the next century, it is important that those qualities are not squandered lightly.

The matter is also urgent because I wish the House to have the opportunity to show that it understands the worries, doubts and anxieties that my constituents in Birkenhead as well as people throughout Merseyside will feel today.

The matter is urgent because we wish to give the Government the opportunity to explain to the House what measures they propose to take to ensure that the sale is a success.

Lastly, the matter is urgent because, if there is no sale, this great shipyard will be closed.

While I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to stress the positive side of Cammell Laird to a wider audience, I believe that it is only in a full-scale debate that I and the House could do justice to what is now on offer and on sale. I want the House to take a resolution that it will not lightly allow that asset, those skills, those people and the dignity that they have shown through the years to be cast on to the unemployment scrap heap. For all those reasons, and not merely one of them, I seek to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

the proposed sale of Cammell Laird shipbuilders. I, too, listened to the news at lunchtime and I have listened with care to what the hon. Member has said about this important matter. However, as he knows, under Standing Order No. 20. I have to announce my decision without giving my reasons to the House. I have to decide whether his application comes within the Standing Order and whether a debate should take precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow.

I regret that, in this case, the matter which he has raised does not meet those requirements and I cannot today submit his application to the House.